The Hyperions Image

The Hyperions

By Alan Ng | March 10, 2022

I have such great admiration for the story and ideas behind writer-director Jon McDonald’s The Hyperions. I’m just trying to put my finger on why I didn’t absolutely love this superhero tale about family. Happily, I think I figured it out.

The Hyperions is the story of a superhero family… of sorts. Mastermind Professor Ruckus Mandulbaum (Cary Elwes) developed a device known as the Titan Badge that alters the wearer’s DNA, giving them superpowers and used to form a superhero team. In 1960, the first members of The Hyperions were teleporter Maya (Elaine Tan) and two young children, Vista (Penelope Mitchell), a mind controller, and Ansel (Alphonso McAuley), who has super strength.

“…developed a device known as the Titan Badge that alters the wearer’s DNA, giving them superpowers…”

The beloved team was the toast of the town fighting evil, but as children do, they grow up. The moment Vista and Ansel showed any sign of independence, the disappointed Mandulbaum took away their powers and recruited new children to replace them.

Jump forward twenty years, and Mandulbaum is recruiting his third iteration of the superpowered group and hosts a weekly Hyperion Club television show. Meanwhile, adult Vista and Ansel staged a not-so-stealthy heist of their Titan Badges from The Hyperion Museum. The operation almost works, except that access to the badges requires Professor Mandulbaum’s fingerprints to release them. So Vista and Ansel take the museum staff hostage, forcing a confrontation with their former father figure.

There’s a lot to love about The Hyperions. Along with a 60s quirky vibe, Elwes is a joy as Professor Mandulbaum. He created this character entirely from scratch as a slightly malevolent version of Walt Disney. Everything about his acting choices is a study in character development, including a slightly hunched posture, which questions the character’s self-confidence as a leader. The way Elwes speaks says so much about the inner workings of Mandulbaum.

The Hyperions (2022)

Directed and Written: Jon McDonald

Starring: Cary Elwes, Penelope Mitchell, Elaine Tan, Alphonso McAuley, etc.

Movie score: 6.5/10

The Hyperions Image

"…a good story once you understand what it is saying."

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  1. Vince Garcia says:

    Respectfully, I disagree with the assumption that the pacing is not an intentional choice by the director. This is meant to feel like an episode of the wonderful world of Disney. The art direction at the critical moment in the movie when the Dr makes his decision going into the finale is a classic example of the style this movie is seeking to emulate. Incredible acting, wonderful dialogue, and actual character development are only marred by how much the director borrowed from Wes Anderson, instead of striving to create his own style and flavor of composition, framing, and actor direction. If you compare the actions sequences in this movie to movies like Life Aquatic, you can see why the action and pacing choices were made.

    At it’s heart, this is not a super hero movie, this is a movie about family, set in the tone of a sixties weekend family movie, that just happens to include characters who are super heroes.

  2. Dave says:

    I think you’re being way to nice and forgiving. This film was as dull as can be, most of the “laughs” fell completely flat, and it seemed cheap and amateur. Regardless of the messaging, the movie was hard to watch. Actually it was painful to watch. I stuck it out just hoping that it would come alive at some point.

    • Mike Day says:

      This film was a lot like the Royal Tenanbaum’s in tone. It is a different take on the superhero genre. The Marvel / D.C. blockbusters mostly fall short when it comes to portraying internal conflict or empathy. Cardboard cutouts dressed up and given a superpower and catch phrase. I won’t knock that either though this genre has been about appealing to kids, you don’t need more. This movie succeeds in making characters that are less super and more human. Sort of a weird combination, an anti-hero hipster approach to super heroes, trying to be the opposite of what you expect. If you don’t mind the feeling of discontinuity I found it fun, clever and entertaining.

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